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Calls for Hanuman game withdrawal; Sony responds

ReviewA Hindu man from America just sent me a press release urging Sony to withdraw recently-released PlayStation 2 game Hanuman: Boy Warrior (our review here). Rajan Zed, the press release says, is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism. He’s also well known for being the first to recite Hindu prayers in various US houses of Senate. In the past, he has taken up noble causes such as protests against singer Rihanna’s misspelled Sanskrit tattoo, Mike Myers flick Love Guru, and supermodel Heidi Klum’s Goddess Kali Halloween costume. Sony is in good company.

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Rajan Zed: Of Rihanna, Mike Myers and Kedi Klum fame

In a video game set-up, the player would control the destiny of Lord Hanuman, while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities.

There’s more.

Controlling and manipulating Lord Hanuman with a joystick/button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Lord Hanuman was not meant to be reduced to just a “character” in a video game to solidify company/products base in the growing economy of India.

He goes on to liken Hanuman: Boy Warrior to Barbie, MTV’s Jackass, Looney Tunes, Midnight Club, and Scooby Doo, amongst others. How all of these are related to one another is beyond me; I guess they all offend the Hindu faith. What did Sooby Doo ever Doo to Yoo?

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Hanuman: Boy Warrior: More offensive to the senses than to the Hindu faith

Later in the release, Zed stresses the need for a certification board for games in India, similar to the censor board that regulates film and music releases. And not wanting to sound totalitarian, he adds that Hindus encourage free speech and healthy, peaceful debate, but fails by following that up with

But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.

Like someone posted on the forums, yes, Hanuman: Boy Warrior should be withdrawn by Sony. Not for religious reasons however, but simply because the game is just so bad. Ever since this game came out, I’m sure we’ve all been waiting for some Hindu fundamentalist to show up and make video games the enemy. But it’s quite funny that no one in India has really cared (may be this isn’t a big enough issue to help draw votes), while someone in America has taken up the charge. Then again, Mr. Zed is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, and universal means global, so we better shut up and listen ‘cause he calls the shots and represents Hindus everywhere.

(Note: the last line is intended to be sarcastic)

UPDATE

Here’s what Sony has to say in response to these calls for the game’s withdrawl. There’s no name to this following statement; just that it comes from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

The game, Hanuman: Boy Warrior, which is currently only available in India, was developed with inspiration from the Hindu mythology and at every step, prominent Indian scholars were consulted.  The aim of the game has always been to encourage young Indians to celebrate the stories of Hanuman and to help bring these key lessons to life. The characterization of Hanuman is true to the actual depiction in Indian mythology, both in terms of the look as well as the powers that he has. The game has been developed with the Indian value systems and depicts a merciful winning of Good over Evil, something that is synonymous with Hanuman as a character. When creating the game, at no stage were any liberties taken to deviate from the divine power and nature of Hanuman. The endeavor actually focuses on using the powerful interactive form to bring the various mythological characters of India to the Indian audience.

Join the discussion at the IndianVideoGamer Community forums

Full press release

Hindus have urged Sony Corporation to withdraw the newly released “Hanuman: Boy Warrior” video game for PlayStation2, saying it trivializes the highly revered deity of Hinduism.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that in a video game set-up, the player would control the destiny of Lord Hanuman while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities..

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.. Controlling and manipulating Lord Hanuman with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Lord Hanuman was not meant to be reduced to just a “character” in a video game to solidify company/products base in the growing economy of India.

Rajan Zed further said that as a PlayStation2 video game, Lord Hanuman would be in the company of America’s 10 Most Wanted, Bad Boys, Barbie, Britney’s Dance Beat, First Kiss Stories, Guitar Freaks, Jackass, Killer7, Looney Tunes, Mafia, Mercenaries, Midnight Club, Mister Mosquito, Nicktoons, Psychonauts, Scooby Doo, Truckers, etc.

Zed explained that Lord Hanuman was greatly revered and his worship was very popular among Hindus and there were numerous temples dedicated to him. Son of wind-god, besides incredible strength and changing shape at will and flying, he was believed to be a perfect grammarian, great scholar and excelled in all the sciences. According to a legend, even while he was still an infant, he intimidated the sun. In Mahabharata war, flag on Arjuna’s chariot driven by Lord Krishna displayed Lord Hanuman. According to a belief, all the planets were under his control.

Rajan Zed pointed out that as Sony was said to be a socially responsible and ethical corporation, it would effectively understand the feelings of Hindu community on this issue. According to PlayStation Network website: “This game is a “growing up” story of Hanuman, where he starts as a powerless being and regains his powers through the game.”

Zed suggested that India and all other countries of the world should come up with national content rating organizations for video games as these seriously affected the outlook and thought process of our next generation. Till India came up with such organization, Central Board of Film Certification should be given the authority of rating and deciding whether the particular video game was suitable for public distribution in India.

Rajan Zed stressed that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. Hindu tradition encouraged peaceful debates, won on their intellectual merit. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.

Hindus welcomed entertainment industry to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism concepts and symbols for mercantile greed. Hindus would gladly provide genuine entertainment industry seekers the resources they needed for their study and research regarding Hinduism, Zed stated.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be plundered, Rajan Zed said.

Sony, founded in 1946, one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world with consolidated annual sales of about $89 billion, is headquartered in Tokyo (Japan). Howard Stringer is the Chairman.

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